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Down Under Saddle Supply

Aussie Saddle Fitment

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Fitting the saddle to your horse, wither tracings,
seat size, and riding position information


Saddle Fitment

By purchasing from Down Under Saddle Supply you receive service and advice that is unparalleled within the industry. Here in Aurora we have a huge inventory of saddles in stock for immediate delivery, assuring that you receive the right saddle for you and your horse.

Most of our current Kimberley Series and Down Under models have adjustable saddle trees, whereby we can adjust the saddle to fit nearly any kind of horse .....big or small. When we receive your wither tracing we match it to a suitable saddle and make any needed adjustements. If after you receive your saddle you are unsure of the saddle fit, just post or email us some side-on, front, and back photographs of the saddle on the horse, with the horse in a normal upright position. With the right pictures, we can usually help with most fitment questions right over the phone.

If you made a mistake with the wither tracing: Down Under is still there for you. After viewing the photographs we will advise you if you have the saddle correctly positioned on the horse and if the saddle fitment is correct. If the saddle fitment is not correct we offer you one additional saddle tree adjustment at no charge (a $60 value). You send the saddle to us freight pre-paid, along with a note with your phone number and return delivery address, we will adjust the saddle tree to suit the photographs and we will pay the return shipping back to you. Please allow up to five working days for the adjustment, plus the return shipping time.

Fitment for the horse and rider is our number one priority. Each original Down Under Direct customer is entitled to one custom adjustment at the time of purchase, and one additonal adjustment any time during the first year at no charge.


How to Take a Wither Tracing

Wither tracing for an Australian Saddle
A
B
C

A First, note where an Australian saddle sits on the horse. It is forward on the withers, with the girth one to three inches behind the front legs. We want the wither tracing to reflect where the front of the saddle will be on the horse. The easiest way to find this spot is to follow the line of the back of the horse's front leg straight up to the top of the withers.

B Next, snip off the twisted ends of a common coat hanger (or use any other bendable wire), and bend the wire over the withers where indicated until you have a snug fit. Carefully remove without changing the angle.

C Trace the outline of the wire on a standard 8 1/2" by 11" sheet of paper with a black marker or a bold pen. Turn the paper sideways to give a larger drawing of the withers. We only need 6 to 8 inches down each side of the wire to get the correct angle.

Mail or fax your wither tracing to (720) 975-9295. Make sure to include your name, phone number, and the saddle you ordered (or are interested in). Make sure to include the breed of horse, its height in hands, and its heart girth measurement (all the way around the horse where the girth goes - see below). For the rider, include your height, weight, and pant size.

If you want to scan your wither tracing and send it to us via email, please mark a scale in inches across the bottom of the wither tracing. Sometimes scans don't get to us the same size as they were created.

Scroll down a little and you'll find videos on how to do wither tracings and heart girth measurements.


How to Take a Heart Girth Measurement

Horse heart girth measurement
Heart Girth Measurement

Measure the circumference of the horses body in inches. This measurement goes all the way around the horse, about one to three inches behind the front legs.


How an Australian saddle should
fit you and your horse

How to take a heart girth measurement
and wither tracing


Where to position the saddle on your horse

Australian saddles sit more forward on the horses back than traditional western saddles, the stirrups are also attached in a more forward position. This puts the rider's center of gravity and weight in a more forward position rather than the middle of the spine. The girth should be 1" to 3" behind the horse's front legs. This position is unquestionably far more comfortable for most horses and greatly enhances horse performance. Before undertaking a long ride with your new saddle, we suggest many shorter rides allowing the padding to conform and adjust to your horse.

Saddle position


How the saddle should fit on your horse

Australian saddles do sit differently on a horse than Western or English saddles, and a different fitment approach is required. Make sure you contact us directly with any questions you may have. Be assured no one else can offer you the kind of knowledge required for saddle fitment of Australian saddles. Do not rely on trainers, tack shops, conventional saddle fitters or friends, whom although mean well, do not have the expertise required regarding Australian saddles and how they should fit your horse.

Saddle angle

The ABC's of Horse Saddle Fitment

(A) The Front of the saddle is too high

The front (pommel) of this saddle is sitting too high. This will result in the majority of the riders' weight being transferred to the back half of the saddle. It's a simple principal of weight running downhill. This is uncomfortable for the rider and the horse; within a short period of time the horse will develop white hair, then visible saddle soreness. The saddle tree is too narrow for the horse, and you need a wider saddle. The narrower the saddle tree the higher the front of the saddle will sit.

Saddle fitment - front too high


(B) The Front of the saddle is too low

The back (cantle) of this saddle is sitting too high. This will result in the majority of the riders' weight being transferred to the front half of the saddle (gravity wins again!). This is uncomfortable for the rider and the horse; within a short period of time the horse will develop white hair, then visible saddle soreness. The saddle tree is too wide for the horse, and you need a narrower saddle or a saddle tree adjustment- (if adjustable). The wider the saddle tree the lower the front of the saddle will sit.

Saddle fitment - front too low


(C) Absolutely as good as it gets

The front and back of this saddle is level, distributing the riders' weight evenly over the horse's back. Actually we don't just consider the front and back of the saddle, we also look at the seat itself. The seat in this saddle is nice and level. To determine that the saddle is fairly level, just eyeball it, there is no need to use an engineers level.

It is not always possible to get this perfect "textbook fitment" shown here, however if the front is a little higher or a little lower, you will be just fine, as long as you don't have the extremes shown above. (Several of our saddle models are made with a deeper seat and higher cantle, so naturally the back of the seat will sit slightly higher than the front on these models).

Saddle fitment - correct


When the saddle is level, there should be even contact along the panels at the front of the saddle. There should be two to four inches of clearance between the top of the withers and the top of the saddle chamber.

How can you determine saddle fitment in this way? I saw some guy conducting a clinic and claiming you need to have four fingers of clearance at the front of the saddle and certain clearance on each side of the withers.

Well I guess you might say we have taken saddle fitment to a whole new level. If you don't have enough clearance between the top of the withers and the saddle, the front of the saddle is obviously sitting too low on the horse, this is diagnosed in illustration "B" above. If you had too much clearance at the front this is diagnosed in illustration "A". Our new fitting program is as simple as ABC, you would wonder why saddle fitters try to make it so difficult!


How to ride Australian

Riding Position: Adjust the stirrup leather length so when you're sitting in the saddle your thigh runs parallel with the kneepad. You'll ride longer in the stirrup with your feet forward and heels down. You should place 25% of your weight in each stirrup and the balance in the seat of the saddle, this ensures an even weight distribution on the horse's back. If your horse is developing sore spots, you always need to consider two points, saddle fitment and the rider's technique. Is the rider placing the correct weight in the stirrups and the saddle seat? When posting in an Australian saddle, you need to use a much lower post than you might have been taught by your riding instructor. You have a few minor riding adjustments to make in order to enjoy the many benefits of an Australian saddle. After you have mastered "Aussie Riding" it is unlikely you will ever want to ride Western or English ever again.

Aussie saddle riding position

How to select the proper seat size...

Australian saddles are measured differently to Western or English saddles. Below is a guide to the size you will need in an Australian saddle, however we still require your height, weight and pant size to correctly determine the exact size you will need for a particular saddle.

 Western Size  14"  15"  16"  17"  18"
 English Size  17"  18"  19"  20"  21"
 Aussie Size  16"  17"  18"  19"  20"

(a) length of seat (seat size).
(b) dip in seat.
(c) height of kneepad.
(d) height of thigh pad.
(e) length of flap.

aussie saddle measurements

Approximate Saddle Size Guide - Ladies
Saddle Size
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
Weight (lbs)
95-120
120-140
140-160
160-180
180-200
200-220
220 Plus
Pant Size
4/6
6/8
10/12
14/16
18/20
20/22
22 Plus

Approximate Saddle Size Guide - Men
Saddle Size
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
Weight (lbs)
110-130
130-160
160-180
180-200
200-220
220-240
240 Plus
Waist Size
28-32
32-34
34-36
36-38
38-40
40-42
42 Plus

Please note that these are general guidelines. If you have any questions about which saddle size is right for you, give us a call. We're always happy to help!


Note: Colors of the products my vary slightly from the photos due to differences in computer monitor displays, dye lot variations, effects of lighting, etc.
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